McIntyre Powder Project

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    Use of McIntyre Powder in Western Australia Gold Mines

     

    NEW!  A review of archival records from the Government of Western Australia has enabled the McIntyre Powder Project to compile a list of Western Australia gold mines that historically were licenced to use McIntyre Powder aluminum dust in miners' change houses. Please see the list under "Resources". 

    Summary of McIntyre Powder use in Western Australia Gold Mines

    McIntyre Research Foundation (a group of mining executives and industrial physicians formed in Canada) granted license to the Government of Western Australia regarding the use of McIntyre Powder (aluminum dust) in WA gold mines.  The Department of Mines in Western Australia acted as a McIntyre Research Foundation agent, issuing sub-licences on behalf of the  Foundation to Western Australian gold mines.

    McIntyre Research Foundation shipped aluminum dust dispersal equipment (e.g. powder ejectors) and canisters of McIntyre Powder to WA gold mines in 1950, and once equipped, WA gold mines began the use of McIntyre Powder in miners’ changerooms in 1950 – by year’s end, 10 mines had commenced aluminum prophylaxis in 21 change houses, and 1450 men were taking the treatment. The 1952 Department of Mines Western Australia report indicated that 28 changerooms were using McIntyre Powder, and 2,387 men were licensed to receive treatment. By 1956, 25 mine changerooms were using it, and 2,757 men were taking the aluminum dust treatment. Fraser’s Mine began using McIntyre Powder in 1957, and Croesus Mine in 1958.  Officially, treatment was “voluntary” but practically, it was difficult to avoid exposure. 

    In 1964, a vote was held to determine if miners wanted to continue aluminum dust treatment, and the miners voted in favour of continuation.  However, by 1966, the Western Australia Department of Mines reported that “both management and labour show little interest in this treatment”. The annual Department of Mines reports indicated that in the late 1960s, aluminum therapy was available to the miners, but its use was in decline, noting “spasmodic and negligible” use by 1968. The last mention of aluminum therapy in the Department of Mines annual reports was in 1970 – simply noting that “Provision for the prophylactic treatment with aluminum powder was available at most gold mines”.

    4873 Western Australian gold miners had McIntyre Powder exposure documented on their miners’ work cards.

    (Sources: WA Government Archives; Department of Mines Western Australia annual reports)

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